Rob Pyne: 'More coal mines is ecocide'

June 30, 2017
Independent member for Cairns Rob Pyne.

The Independent member for Cairns Rob Pyne made the following statement in the Queensland parliament on June 16, while holding up a piece of bleached coral.

* * *

This is coral — bleached coral. Be scared. Be afraid. It will not hurt you, but the global warming that killed it will. This bleached coral is the canary in the coalmine.

This coral was once part of the Great Barrier Reef, a 10,000-year-old ecosystem, one of the natural wonders of this world. Tens of thousands of men and women who work in the electorates of those who sit in this house, such as the electorates of Barron River, Mulgrave and Cairns, rely on coral for their livelihoods.

This coral, that has sustained thriving tourism and fishing industries for decades, in a World Heritage wilderness area that can be seen from space, is dying due to global warming. Thirty per cent of the Great Barrier Reef is dead. This is a national emergency — a climate emergency.

The problem is that those in this House have an ideological, pathological love of coal. There is no word for “coalaphilia” officially but that is the malady that afflicts those in this House.

We continue to suffer the impacts of global warming because of their pathological, ideological addiction to coal. Australia has become a pariah and a laughing stock internationally because of the “coalaphilia” of our political elite. We are wasting these precious years of opportunity to mitigate global warming.

Many of those who sit in this House are taking big money from the fossil fuel industry while allowing our brightest hopes to fizzle out in the dark of 19th century technology.

I am sick to death of hearing the mantra of “jobs and growth” repeated ad infinitum in this House. This coal-loving, coral-hating mantra has taken us to the brink of ecological disaster.

Unless we stop to question what sort of jobs, what sort of growth, this mantra will destroy the planet we inhabit. The Great Barrier Reef mass bleaching events are symptoms of climate change. Climate change is driven by burning fossil fuels. Supporting new coal at this juncture is tantamount to ecocide.

Today the “coalaphiliacs” in this House may pander to Gautam [Adani], Gina [Rinehart] and Twiggy [Forrest] in return for support, but in 10 or 20 years, when their grandchildren ask: “What did you do to stop global warming?”, they will have no answer.

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